Version Reviewed: 1.0.8
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Earthworm Jim was originally released in 1994 on the Sega Genesis. Since then, the game has been subsequently updated and ported to several other platforms, the newest being the iPhone. Earthworm Jim is an unforgettable game in terms of both gameplay and difficulty, but was Gameloft able to successfully port it to a device with no physical buttons?
One of the best features of Earthworm Jim is its humor. For those of you who have yet to play it, in Earthworm Jim, you play as Jim, an initially lowly earthworm. One day, a super-powered suit falls from space and gives Jim super powers. Of course, Jim's adventure involves saving a princess, "Queen Slug-for-a-Butt". Saving the princess involves, like all platformers, the basic mechanic of running and jumping onto platforms. There are numerous enemies along the way, which Jim can attack in one of two ways, depending on the enemy: using his gun or using his head as a whip. The whip can also be used as a sort of pseudo grappling rope. In addition to the normal in-level enemies, there are bosses which often require special mechanics. One of the best things about Earthworm Jim is the absolute plethora of gameplay elements it contains. There are wires to be crossed using your head, conveyer belts of garbage, teleportation devices, underwater hiding spots, and more. The level design is superb. Earthworm Jim is known for being extremely difficult, but to help out more casual gamers, Gameloft has included four difficulty levels, the hardest one being "original." In addition to the normal platforming levels, Earthworm Jim contains intermediary tunnel racing levels in which you race an enemy. These are controlled using the accelerometer, and they are very similar to other App Store tunnel games: avoid some objects, collect others. Including these levels, Earthworm Jim has 16 levels in all. The game is a little short, though the individual levels are long. Frustratingly, there are no mid-level saves, eliminating "pick up and play" value.
I couldn't have ever imagined a perfect control scheme for Earthworm Jim for the iPhone, but Gameloft did the best they could. Movement is done using a virtual d-pad or analog stick. While for me, the d-pad was by far easier to use, it lacked a big enough sensitivity area. There are on-screen action buttons for jumping, using the gun, and using the whip. These are a bit too bunched together. The controls take some time to master, and of course lack the precision of physical controls which is frustrating, but are not a deal-breaker because of the adjustable difficulty levels.
[caption id="attachment_19332" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Gameloft\'s superb graphics enhancements"]
Gameloft has clearly taken time and effort in recreating Earthworm Jim, as evidenced by the graphics. They have all been lovingly remastered, and look fantastic. The presentation is comical, and is well-implemented. This is the best looking version of Earthworm Jim yet. The audio is great as well, with recreated sound effects and music that do nothing but add to the humorous feel of the game.
Controls have been the breaking point for a countless number of iPhone games thus far, and Earthworm Jim nearly falls into this "Duke Nuke 'em" category. However, Gameloft has done a great job in bringing this game to the iPhone, and the classic gameplay certainly stands the test of time.